Saturday 28 January 2012

Scalloped Vegetables

Every now and again our local Superstore puts Toupee style (whole, boneless, cooked) hams on sale for less than $2.00/pound.  When they do, I try to make room in our food budget to purchase one. 

On average, these hams cost me between $26.00 and $30.00.  I cut them into six portions, wrap each portion separately and put them in the freezer.  Each portion provides three to four meals for the two of us, making them a very good value indeed.

I thought at first that I would be able to just thaw my portions of ham and use them immediately but, when I did so, the results were disappointing.  The meat had an unpleasant texture and was watery.  Now, I reheat the ham portions from frozen. 

When I remove the ham from the freezer, I put it straight into a pot and cover it with cold water.  I add onion, celery, carrot, garlic, and bay leaves.  I bring the whole thing to a boil and then turn it down to a simmer.  Once the ham has been heated through, I remove it from the water, transfer it to a cutting board and cover it with a large heatproof bowl.  After it’s rested for 10 minutes, I slice it and serve it.  I save the cooking water to use as a base for stock or for soup.

My husband associates ham with special occasion dinners.  He grew up on a farm, where having ham meant raising the pig, butchering it, and then curing it.  Once all of that was done, his mom would roast the cured ham in the oven and glaze it.  Such a labour intesive dish merited a celebration.

Like our Thanksgiving dinners now, the ham dinners of my husband’s childhood had a very specific menu.  Ham was always served with scalloped potatoes and boiled cabbage.  

He’ll be glad to forgo the boiled cabbage but, to this day, when I serve ham (even my very simple reheated version) my guy wants his scalloped potatoes.  If I have the time, I don’t mind making them.  They’re simple, inexpensive, and tasty, but I’m constantly challenged to get enough vegetables into my husband's diet.  A dinner of only meat and potatoes just doesn't make the mark.

In pursuit of my “more vegetables” goal, I decided to try adding some other veggies to our scalloped potatoes.  As long as I left potatoes as the top and bottom layers of the dish, the change was well received. 

Over the years, I’ve made this dish with virtually every winter vegetable.  It always works well and always tastes good...although I will admit that beets can give it a rather unusual colour!

We had ham last night and I made a very simple version of my scalloped vegetable dish.  I used:
  • 4 medium potatoes
  • 1/4 of a large head of cabbage, sliced thinly
  • 1 medium onion, sliced thinly
  • All purpose flour
  • About a quarter pound of butter
  • Salt and salt
  • Milk

I started by thinly slicing two of the potatoes and  spreading them in an even layer on the bottom of a loaf pan.

I sprinkled a thin layer of flour over the potatoes, dotted some butter here and there over the flour.  Then I seasoned the layer with salt and pepper. 

I made another layer, this time of sliced cabbage.

I dressed the cabbage layer with flour, butter, salt and pepper, just as I had done with the potatoes.

Next, I made a layer of sliced onions.

I dressed the onion layer with flour, butter, salt and pepper, just as I had done with the potatoes and cabbage.

I layered in the last two potatoes

and one more sprinkling of flour, butter, salt and pepper.  I finished assembling the dish by pouring in enough milk to come just even with the top layer of potatoes.

I put the loaf pan into a 350˚F oven with a pan underneath to catch any drips caused by the milk boiling over.  (Be sure to line your drip pan with foil.  The first time I made this, I didn’t do that.  The milk burned and seemed to fuse with the pan on a molecular level.  It was absolutely impossible to remove.  The pan was ruined.)

Bake the vegetables until a knife inserted into the center of the pan easily pierces them.  The top layer of potatoes will be browned and the milk may be very dark near the edges.

Let the dish rest for a few minutes to settle, but serve it while the vegetables are still hot.

This dish reheats well but doesn’t freeze well.  You can use leftovers just as they are or incorporate them into a soup.

This post was linked to Think Pink Sundays, hosted by Flamingo Toes


Lyne said...

I'm liking this idea of veggies mixed in with the scalloped potatoes, thanks for the idea!

I am also quite interested in how you reheat the ham. I also have found I do not like using thawed toupie hams for the same reason, weird texture and watery, yuk. So next time I see them on sale, I'm going to buy one and give this a try. I've been avoiding buying them because our family just doesn't eat much ham at any one time and without the option of freezing, it wasn't worth the purchase.

Aunt B said...

You're welcome Lyne. :) I'm glad I could provide you with some useful ideas.

Seren Dippity said...

Love the idea of mixing in different veggies. Basically though you only use salt and pepper to season the dish? I used to make a scalloped potato dish similar to this (excluding the additional veggies) that also had about 1/2 cup of diced green onion and some herbs. I didn't make it for years and when I tried to recreate it something is off. I can't find any notes in my recipe files or cookbooks. So I scanned the internet to see what a standard recipe is for scalloped potatoes. I have found that nobody knows the difference between scalloped and au gratin. Almost every recipe that I have found called Scalloped is full of cheese. Makes me want to _scream_. I thank you for not having cheese in your scalloped veggies. ;-D I'm about to give up on finding what herbs I used.

Aunt B said...

I use different seasonings in my scalloped veggies depending upon what I have on hand. Because it works so well with cream sauce, I often add nutmeg. Depending upon what vegetables you use, thyme and parsley often work well. If you're just using potatoes, using potatoes and cabbage, or potatoes and beets, dill can be a nice addition.

Culinarians differ between scalloped dishes and au gratin dishes in this way: A scalloped dish contains milk or cream, usually thickened with some sort of roux. A gratin contains cheese as well as milk or cream. In France a gratin is even more specific: It refers to a casserole cooked in a gratin dish (a shallow, oven proof, ceramic container, without a lid), made with a sauce which may or may not contain cheese, but always topped with a "crust" of cheese, sometimes mixed with breadcrumbs.

I hope this helps. :)

Unknown said...

looks yummy, what an easy to follow tutorial! Thanks for sharing!

Aunt B said...

Thanks Tamika. I'm glad you found the tutorial easy to follow. I appreciate you taking the time to check it out.